Former CEO At Make-A-Wish Charity Pleads Guilty To Giving Herself Bonus, Embezzling Over $40,000

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
Font Size:

The former CEO of Make-A-Wish Iowa pleaded guilty to giving herself a bonus and embezzling nearly $41,000, The Associated Press (AP) reported Wednesday. 

Jennifer Woodley, 40, pleaded guilty in late May to making unauthorized charges on the foundation’s credit card, giving herself an unapproved bonus and salary boosts and making false entries into foundation documents about those expenses, according to the AP. Make-A-Wish is a non-profit charity that helps children who have critical illnesses.

Woodley was arrested in January and booked at the county jail in Des Moines before being released on bond, the AP previously reported. She pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree theft and one count of fraudulent practices, according to the AP.

The Make-A-Wish Iowa group is one of 60 chapters of Make-A-Wish America, which grants “hundreds of thousands of life-changing wishes to children battling critical illnesses,” according to the organization’s website. (RELATED: Mattis And General Dunford Make Boy’s Make-A-Wish Dream Come True [PHOTOS])

Shortly after becoming the CEO of the Iowa chapter in August 2019, Woodley secretly gave herself an unapproved $10,000 bonus in October of that year, the AP reported in January. The bonus cost the foundation $15,540 in total.

Woodley also made 84 unauthorized purchases totaling more than $23,000 on the organization’s credit card over the course of 10 months, according to the AP. The thefts continued until the organization found irregularities during an internal compliance review in 2020, and fired Woodley.

Restitution for the nearly $41,000 that Woodley embezzled has not yet been set, according to the AP. A sentencing hearing was scheduled for July 20.

Make-A-Wish Iowa’s tax filing shows that Woodley succeeded Chris Voggesser, whose salary was roughly $140,000, according to the AP.

Prosecutors will reportedly recommend a five-year probation sentence and fines and restitution. Nicholas Sarcone, Woodley’s attorney, reportedly said that he would ask for a deferred judgement. If granted, this would mean the case would be expunged from Woodley’s records after she completes her probation and other sentencing requirements.